Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
Love Bugs connected
Vehicles and the INSECTS stuck on the front.
My first encounter with the infamous Love Bug was a few years ago while I was on a vacation trip in my motorhome.
We were living in South Carolina at the time and we decided to spend a few weeks in a campground on the Florida panhandle.
After I had done my research and eventual trip planning, it turned out that the best path for me was to go down I-95 to I-10 in Jacksonville and then across I-10 to Destin, Florida.
As all my fellow RV owners, and auto drivers know; in the warmer times of the year, you are going to get bugs on the front of your vehicle. It is unavoidable, and we may curse a bit under our breath, but we accept it as a natural cost of traveling on the open roads of America.
There are all types of defense mechanisms implemented by my fellow travelers. Some of us will install large black "Bras" on the front of our motorhomes, trucks or cars. Many will install custom cut sheets of plexiglass to protect their vehicles paint. while some will even have the newer technology of specially designed clear 3M coverings installed on the fronts.
Some frustrated travelers will even coat the front of their vehicle with a variety of automobile cleaning chemicals to facilitate the cleaning of their front ends. But honestly, most of these methods of protecting your vehicles paint just don't work.
They don't actually reject bugs, so you still get the mess, but you now get the dead bug remains on something other than your vehicles paint job. And you hope that the covering you use is easier to clean. And,of course, by using such devices your paint job is not marred by the acids in the insects remains.
And then, there are Love Bugs!
With all of that said, there aisa special breed of insects that automobile drivers in the Southern part of the USA are becoming more and more familiar with.
My wife and I had driven down I-95 and we were actually still in Georgia, just a few miles north of the Florida state line when I drove through my first swarm of Love Bugs.
Sure, my motorhome already had a variety of other suicidal insects stuck on the windshield but these so called Love Bugs were different.
When I looked closer at what was sticking on my windshield, I could see that there were actually two bugs connected together in their own little puddle of intestinal residue.
I sat back and kept driving, wondering about this strange bug; but I had a destination to reach, and it was still well over a hundred miles to my destination in Florida.
Curiously, as we continued on I-10 for about 30-40 miles, we ran through two more large swarms of these strange bugs, and my windshield had become a serious mess. So, I turned on my Wiper/Washer.
Boy, what a mistake. Rather than remove the semi-ried insect remains, my action had just smeared them across my RV's windshield. By this time, the residue was so thick and it the majority was right in my line of sight so I had to pull off at the next rest area on I-10 hoping to clear this mess up before I returned to the road.
After I had stopped and gotten out, I immediately walked around to the front of my RV and was just staring at the mess when another RVer came over to stand beside me, laughing. He shook my hand and said; Love Bugs Huh?
I turned to him, confused, and I asked; What the Hell is a Love Bug? I had never heard of such a thing and once he realized this, he stopped laughing and patiently gave me an explanation about the world of Love Bugs in Florida.
It was a surprising Insect it seemed, and as I stood there he even gave me some tips on cleaning them off of my windshield, so I could keep on traveling.
I ended up spending the next 45 minutes pulling cleaning gear, chemicals, and my stepladder from the underside of my RV, cleaning the windshield so that I could see through it well enough to continue driving.
I continued to drive through several more swarms of these pests and because of these stupid little bugs I ended up having to stop and repeat this cleaning procedure yet again before I finally got to my destination for the day.
What is a Love Bug?
There are a lot of different unsubstantiated stories about where Love Bugs came from.
It seems that they originated in Central America, and have been migrating north for decades until they eventually spread throughout Florida's ideal Tropical climate and landscape.
The bad thing for the rest of you who might be laughing at my delima, is that Love Bugs are no longer isolated to Florida, because they are now found in the southern reaches of Georgia, and Louisiana. And they are continuing to spread.
Love Bugs actually live in the ground, preferring a loamy soil covered in rotting wood fragments.
Why are they called LOVE BUGS
One unique trait of the Love Bug is their mating cycle.
Each nest will mature once a year and when they do, they rise from the ground and swarm to mate while in the air.
Once the males and the females are swarming together, the smaller male attaches its rear to the females rear and proceeds to begin injecting its semen into the female.
The typical female has over 200 eggs inside her and the male has enough semen to fertilize at least this many.
One unique thing about this mating process is the fact that the male stays attached until it has totally expended it semen, and then it dies, still attached to the female. You can see this in the picture at the top of this article.
Once fertilized, the female, if it hasn't found someone's windshield to commit suicide on, will return to its nesting area and begin the process of laying the eggs and maintaining them as a new Love Bugs are born, and then it also dies.
This process is then repeated the next season.
When do Love Bugs appear?
I mention Spring and Fall above, but you can find them swarming in various places during April, May, September and October.
An individual nest will swarm only once a year, and then for only one to two weeks. And, when one does swarm, the swarm itself does not travel very far from its original nesting area.
The problem for us humans is that the date each nest swarms is seemingly arbitrary, so if you live on a certain street, one nest might swarm at one end, and be nearly gone when another nest swarms a few hundred yards away, a week later,
So, to us, the hapless humans who travel for miles just to pick up a loaf of bread, or a six-pack, it seems that Love Bugs are out and in force for months.
Love Bug Prevention
Sorry, you can't prevent the appearance of Love Bugs. Their nests, being underground, are almost undetectable.
Even the use chemicals can't work if you can't find where to spray.
There are some preferences that the otherwise stupid Love Bug has, that you try to avoid so that they will at least want to swarm and land somewhere else.
Light Colors- Love Bugs love bright and light colors, and will tend to swarm towards something bright and white over something dark or black. This one, I can attest to, as my first trip was in a Motorhome that was almost totally white on the outside.
Open Highways- Love Bugs do seem to migrate towards the lighter colored, hot, highways and roads of the South. On the other hand, most Southern highways are raised affairs usually surrounded by swamps and moist woodlands that are ideal for them to nest in. Thus, perhaps the reason for their being so abundant over highways.
Love Bugs are Stupid - OK, I guess every species of animal or insect is kind of stupid when having sex. I know my eyes roll back in my head and I can say and do some really stupid things when I am having sex, so I can imagine their predicament. And, of course, these things are flying around having continual sex for days.
Love Bugs will fly into anything, seemingly without any attempt to avoid a collision.
They will land on vertical surfaces, walls, people, windows, anything; and just roam around aimlessly, running into each other, losing their grip on the surface and falling at any time.
Love Bugs are not Dangerous - Probably the only good thing about Love Bugs, other than their contribution to the soil of a landscape, is the fact that they are considered safe to be around.
Love Bugs do not bite, or sting, or as far as I know they do not carry any harmful bacteria or virus'. A pair might accidentally fly up your nose or into your mouth, but that's about it.
Love Bugs in the Future!
These pests are a hearty breed, and even though they are loved only by birds, they continue to migrate further north.
They do prefer swampy and wooded wetlands, but there is nothing to stop them from continuing to move further north over the next decade or so.
So, look for these Love Bugs with their unique mating process to continue to expand their nests until man ends up paving everything they can.
Cleaning Up after a Love Bug attack
You do need to clean up after these insects when they turn themselves into a smear on your automobiles windshield or front end.
Their bodies are acidic and if you add over 200 eggs and an equivalent amount of semen to the mixture, it all sets up within a couple of hours as if it was a hard epoxy.
Or so it seems to me when I try to clean them from my windshield. And the longer the mess sits out in the weather, the harder it is to remove.
Are there any cleaners that are best for removing Love Bugs?
Sad to say, there are two things that you can do to ease the cleaning process.
First, have a well waxed automobile body and use something like RainX to treat your windshield. If the surfaces are well treated, then the bug's remains will be somewhat easier to remove.
Second, use warm, soapy water and a rag, combined with a liberal dose of "elbow grease" to wash the stubborn mess away.
Myself, I will hose them down a few times over ten minutes or so before I try to remove them. The water does seem to soften some of them up?
Sorry! There is No Magic Formula
Here is where I have to tell you that there is no Magic cleaning system that you can use to remove Love Bugs, or really other dead bug remains, from your vehicle.
WARNING: Do not use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning devices. All you will do is damage your vehicles paint.
The very best, and safest way to remove these pests are;
- Do not let the vehicle sit longer than necessary. The longer these bug remains stay on your vehicle, the more they set up and resist removal.
- Use a water hose and saturate the bugs, then wait five to ten minutes before you repeat this, several times. You will notice that some of the Love Bug bodies do fall off from the water pressure.
- Once you have softened the bugs remains with water, use a regular cloth to wipe over the remains to remove more of what's left. It is usually futile to try rubbing harder or longer.
- Once you have done this to the front of the vehicle, you can repeat the process and you will be usually be able to remove more of the remains.
WARNING! I will tell you to use common sense when you decide to use some vendor's magic formula that they state will easily remove bug remains. Common sense says that the faster any chemical is, in removing bug remains, then it most likely contains a very caustic chemical that may eventually damage your vehicles paint.
That's it! Patience is necessarily the best tool for removing these bug remains, and take care to not damage your vehicles paint.
Love Bug Information
Love Bugs are seasonal
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on May 19, 2013:
Fossillady- I expect they will take a very long time to make ti to your part of the country, considering their love of more tropical climes.
I appreciate tour read and your vote UP.
Have a great day,
Kathi Mirto from Fennville on May 19, 2013:
Wow, that's news to me. I feel you frustration and glad you can find humor is something so aggravating. I live in Michigan and have not encountered the love bug. I always thought it was just the VW Volkswagon. Voted+, Happy Traveling, Kathi
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on May 17, 2013:
BlossumSB- Thank You for your reading my article on these peculiar insects and their lives as a nuisance.
Have a great day,
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on May 16, 2013:
tillsontitan- Too Funny! Living here in Florida, these stupid pests become a joke to you quickly. They are a nuisance, but a safe one, I guess.
And, Thanks for you comment about how I presented the information.
As to your pests up North, these little bugs should be the least of your worries. LOL!
Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on May 16, 2013:
Yuk! How horrible! I'm glad we don't have them here - yet! We have enough of others kinds of insects. One thing is sure, I wouldn't love them, but thanks for writing about them and I'm sure the end of the journey was so lovely it was worth it.
Mary Craig from New York on May 16, 2013:
Now that's something new to me! Remember, I'm a New Yorker so I've never even heard of these little critters. You've done a great job of telling us about them and I like the way you took us on a ride in your RV and your sense of humor while you did! I do hope they stay down south, we have enough pests up here already, four legged and two legged ;)
Voted up, useful, and interesting.